If Guinness handed out world records for routers, D-Link Cloud Router 5700 DIR-865L would be the clear winner. This is the fastest router we've tested by far, capable of transferring a 6GB file in less than 90 seconds. But is speed enough of a reason to pick up this $189 device?
Click to EnlargeThe D-Link DIR-865L is a rectangular-shaped, all-black router that won't win any design awards. Still, it's a marked improvement from the D-Link white-black boxes of yesteryear. Standing vertically, it looks almost exactly like a Netgear router. Cisco's routers sport sleeker profiles.
Setup and Install
D-Link has also never kept pace with the slick setup process for Belkin or Cisco routers. Once you unpack the Cloud Router 5700 router and plug in the Ethernet cables, you'll eventually find that you have to use the age-old setup process of typing in the IP address of the router (192.168.0.1) in your browser. Once you do find the advanced settings, you'll find they are fairly straightforward. The setup process took only 10 minutes, since there was no software to install. Mostly, the router configured itself.
Click to EnlargeThe Cloud Router 5700 DIR-865L can use the predraft 802.11ac technology, and as such, is an incredibly fast router. Using Ixia Chariot, the device hummed along at 464 Mbps, an amazing accomplishment. That's about 100 Mbps faster than the Buffalo AirStation AC1300, as well as the Belkin AC1200, two other 802.11ac routers. Copying 6GB of files over 802.11ac wireless took only 1 minute 20 seconds, the fastest we have ever seen. (By comparison, the same batch of files took 3:43 minutes to copy using the Belkin AC1200 router.) Copying 1.2GB took 39 seconds, slower than the Belkin's 35 seconds.
However, for the fastest speeds, you have to make sure you stick with a particular configuration. We used two DIR-865L models and set one as a bridge for the first. Then, we connected two high-end HP ENVY 17 laptops to the bridge to test for the fastest speed. Also, the speed requires using the 80Mhz channel only in the 5 GHz band, not the 2.4 GHz band. (The 5.0 band is used most often for media streaming, while the more far-reaching 2.4GHz band is used for data.)
When we stopped using the 802.11AC bridge, network speeds dropped to a more typical level: about 200 Mbps at 5 feet, which is on a par with the Cisco Linksys EA4500, and about 50 Mbps faster than average. The DIR-865L also maintained excellent throughput at distance. From 150 feet away, it averaged 170 Mbps on the 5GHz band, more than double the category average; the only router that came close was the Cisco Linksys EA4500, which notched 62 Mbps from that distance.
The DIR-865L is called a "cloud" router because you can connect to it using a couple of iPhone and Android apps. One is called SharePort Mobile, which can remotely access a USB drive connected to the router. We tested the app on a Google Nexus phone and a Nexus 7 tablet. We played a "Spyhunter" trailer in HD directly from the router without a hitch, as well as the latest Nas album.
The D-Link mydlink cloud app showed router settings, connected devices and even the sites being visited through the router. Configuring these apps was easy; the main problem is that there doesn't seem to be any plan to add more apps to compete with the Cisco EA4500 and 6500 models, which promise the ability to control any Internet-connected device in your home.
D-Link offers some solid Quality-of-Service features as well. We streamed the movie "Thor" on one laptop from the router USB drive and placed a Skype call on another laptop, and the DIR-865L performed both tasks smoothly.
Click to EnlargeGamers and those who require the fastest possible throughput from their router should definitely check out the $189 D-Link Cloud Router 5700 DIR-865L. We wish that D-Link would invest in a better design and a more intuitive setup process, which would give its products more universal appeal. The Cisco Linksys EA4500 represents the most well-rounded router, with a user-friendly interface and generally fast speeds. But for those who believe speed is everything, the DIR-865L is tops.